Connie's Baby Wisdom

Updated July 31st, 2005

Disclaimer

Note: This is intended to be my own personal view of baby equipment, accessories, and general care. You may or may not find what I have to say in other sources, and I don't expect everyone to agree with every word I say. Once again, this is all from my own personal experience in caring for my own children. Take it or leave it.
 

 

 

On Becoming
Baby Wise

Baby Wise

Practical baby raising advice that works.

Have a happy, well behaved baby that sleeps through the night. With predictable naps, you can even go take the baby to a movie without being one of "those" parents.

 

 

Baby Signs

Baby Signs

Your baby can communicate before learning to talk!

Before learning to speak, a young child has enough coordination to do simple signs and gestures, enough to form a large vocabulary, form sentences, express needs, and ask questions. Children are happier because they can ask for help instead of getting frustrated.

 

HLSDA

Home School
Legal Defense Association

Home schooled kids seem to have higher test scores and better relationships with their parents.

If you want to home school, but aren't sure were, how, or what you need to do, especially if facing pressure from your local government — join this organization for the answers and free legal representation.

Equipment

Crib

This can be as fancy or plain as you wish. There are cribs that have drawers underneath and cribs that grow with your child called a 3-in-1 bed. They turn from crib to toddler bed to day bed. Anything will do. Baby really won't care. All you need to know — or should try out before buying — is how to raise and lower the front side, preferably with one hand. (Chances are you'll be holding baby with the other.) Usually you push in a spot on the bottom rail in the middle with your foot, then raise the top a smidge with your free hand. That will release it so you can move it. Safety requirements shouldn't be an issue. Regulations for cribs are great. If you get one from someone, just be sure a soda can will not fit through the bars. If it can, don't accept it-DANGEROUS!

Play Pen

When young, this will come in handy for naps at your house and great for bed/naps when you travel. It is also good for when you need a few minutes alone (ie: use bathroom, get mail, make lunch or dinner) so you know he'll be safe. He will learn to enjoy playing with his toys by himself.

Remember: Boundaries are GOOD! He really would rather be in a 2 x 4 ft confined area than in the middle of an open sea floor. When choosing, avoid getting a play pen with a "hanging bassinet" or changing table that set son top. It may seem like a good idea, but in the long run, it's not practical or very safe.

Walkers

NO!! These do more harm than good for babies. It can actually cause bow- legged legs and are extremely dangerous near stairs and doorways. Baby's mobility is not worth his possible death.

Bouncy Seats

They hang in doorways, usually supported by door frames. Much better than walkers, but limit his time in it. (Not really a problem — let him bounce and tire out for 5 — 10 minutes, verses sticking him in a walker for extended periods of time.) Also, it's very cute to watch his face once he gets the hang (no pun intended) of bouncing.

Activity Chairs

These are pretty good, entertaining and also nice when you need to do something (i.e.: phone call) without baby. Once again, though, just be sure not to keep him in it for hours on end. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.

Diaper Genies

These are handy, but definitely not necessary. If you have a baby shower, 1 or 2 will probably pop up.

Function: diaper pail.

How it works: a plastic bag tube is installed at the top. You tie off the end and stick it into the body of the pail. As baby soils diapers, fold them up and stick in pail. Rotate top where extra "bag" lies.

Result: relatively odorless, concealed used diapers that look like a strain of pearls when emptied.

Drawbacks: usually comes in a perfume scent. It can be tricky or difficult to put in refills. If you don't wipe down the inside of the pail frequently, it will smell horribly. Refills are not cheap.

Changing Table

Always a good idea to have one in baby's room. It makes nighttime changes much easier. For the 1st couple months all you really need is a travel or counter limed with a towel. Right home from the hospital you won't to move/bend too much (especially if you should need a c-section.) Just make sure you have the essentials nearby — diapers, wipes, alcohol, gauze squares, Vaseline, and lotion (optional). When both you and baby are more mobile, most people sit on the floor with a changing pad underneath baby, and the essentials in a closet or cabinet nearby.

Strollers

I recommend having two, although if you're an outdoorsy kind of person, you may want a third. The first would be an umbrella stroller. It's your basic stroller with no frills: four wheels, a seat with 3-point buckle and a foot rest — more upscale models may have a canopy. It's good for quick trips out and can be used when baby learns to sit around 6 months.

There are tons of larger types of strollers you can get as well. It all depends on what you want to use it for. The outdoorsy couple may want to consider the all-terrain 3 wheeler stroller. This one's also good for pushing if you go running outside at all. The front wheel pivots for easy mobility. Some people like the kind where you put the carrier right on top and push it around. I always thought they were big, bulky, awkward and unsightly. I liked the kind where you had an adjustable back (so infants could lay down), canopy and reversible handle (so you could watch baby as you push, although this feature often makes it difficult to steer.) Regardless, the bigger and sturdier the wheels the better!

Storage is another handy feature to look for. Most strollers have under-carriage storage for the diaper bag and a small tray for baby's cup or snack. Others go so far to even offer mom a place to put a drink and a tray to put her keys on. If you are somewhat tall (being 5'6" or more) look around for extendable arms for the handles. Otherwise, you'll find yourself hunched over quite a bit as you push your baby.

The most important feature to look for is how easy it is to fold and unfold, and store in your trunk. Once again it's best if you're able to do it with one hand, but two would work if you can set it up and put it away in 5 — 10 seconds. If it takes much longer it will become a hassle, frustrate you and then you won't use it very often. Think: you don't want to be caught outside in a rain storm or in freezing weather any longer than you have to.

Rocking Chair

Another nice to have but not necessary item. If you get one, just make sure it's comfortable so you could stay in it for 2 hours while baby's asleep on you. He'll be so cuddly and cute you won't want to get up! I like the Davinci model, it's simple.

Night Light

It's much better when things DON'T go bump in the night. Don't get anything too bright or obnoxious. For nighttime feedings and diaper changes, the less contact you have with baby the better and faster he'll go right back to sleep when you're done. Do it in complete silence if you can (don't play or talk to him), and it's best not to change the lighting and hurt his eyes. In rare occasions you may want a small flashlight nearby to make sure all the poop's off.

Diapers

Watch for allergies; may look like a rash. Cheap diapers work okay for daytime use, but I wouldn't suggest using them at night. That's when you go for a brand name (Huggies or Pampers). Regular Ultratrim are great. Don't bother using Supreme. They run very small and work better on girls than boys. When baby gets around 2 years or so, you may need to use Overnights at bedtime, depending on his evening liquid intake. They hold an incredible amount of liquid. (If desperate, YOU could pee in one without it leaking!) Unless you have a preemie, you shouldn't need more than 1 — 2 packages of Newborn diapers before stepping up to Size 1. Babies grow quickly!

Wipes

Not all wipes are created equal. Store brand are usually a lot thinner and smaller in general. The last thing you need is to get poop on your hands when you change him. For every 1 wipe you use of Huggies, expect to use 2 or 3 of a store brand. Spend the extra 50 cents to get the good ones. Once again, we find Huggies brand best. Coupons can be found all over and they have frequent sales. Avoid scented wipes if you can. Baby doesn't need all the extra added chemicals.

Diaper Bags

Make sure you have two. Get a small one for quick trips (to store). Get a large one for day trips — outings longer than 4 hours. Keep them fully stocked at all times.

Most people with kids are late to functions because they're always running around at the last minute looking for stuff that belongs in the bag. When you get home, or while baby's asleep, just replenish whatever was used when you were out. It's that easy.

Diaper bag filler suggestions:  diapers, wipes burp rag, desitin, bib, bottle/sippy cup/food (as needed), 1 — 2 changes of clothes, pacifier, several small toys, medicine (for teething, if sick, or has allergies), bandaids and antiseptic wash (for when mobile), changing pad (comes with most bags), empty bread bag (to put soiled diapers in), and a plastic grocery bag for soiled clothes.

Wipes Travel Container

Avoid the temptation to use them. In the beginning I thought they were handy and useful. You know, anything that is small is by definition cute. I soon realized you can't put enough in them to go anywhere any length of time, and if you don't use them quickly and replenish often, they'll dry up and become useless. The solution? Gallon size Ziploc bags. They can hold a LOT and never dry out. Even when it's hot outside, the moisture stays inside the wipes. The bag is also foldable so you can store it easier in smaller bags, whereas the hard plastic containers can't.

Desitin

Great stuff!! It clears redness and diaper rash quickly. I prefer Creamy over Original. It smells better and washes off you hands easier.

Baby Lotion

Good especially in winter to keep skin soft and smooth. Apply after bath or diaper change. It'll keep him smelling good.

Cloth Diapers

Make excellent burp rags. Can hold lots of spit-up, easy to clean, folds easily and are compact. Get at least one dozen, more if he's a spitter. Don't buy the pre- folded/sewn ones. The plain flat ones are best, as they hold more liquid.

Bibs

Not just good for mealtime. Also good for normal day wear to catch drool, slobber, mini spit ups, and to keep his clothes clean for pictures.

Bottles

If you choose to bottle feed, AVENT is the best brand, especially after or between nursing. The shape of the nipple is most like mom's. Angled bottle are good to decrease air bubble intake.

Breast Pump

I had the best luck with AVENT's hand pump, but it's very tiring on your hand. If you need to be away from baby for a few days or if you go back to work you'll want to rent a double breast pump from wither the hospital or a lactation consultant. If you want to buy one it'll run anywhere from $250 - $300. Always go for a double pump over a single if you have the option. It'll save you loads of time.

Breast Milk Bags

When you pump, put your milk in Gerber milk bags. They are Ziploc and freezer safe. Make sure to label the date and time milk is expressed. Milk can be stored in the freezer 3 months, or in the deep freezer up to 6 months. When thawing, do not microwave. Plan ahead; start thawing in the fridge and/or put it in a cup of hot tap water.

Formula

If going this route, use Similac. You'll get lots of free samples at the hospital. Coupons are everywhere for it. Once you choose a brand, stick with it. If you switch brands you will upset his fragile tummy. Only switch if the doctor says it's necessary to move to a soy milk or other special dietary blend. Do not give baby any cow milk until he's 1 year old, then use only whole milk until he's 2 years old.

Travel Formula Container

This simple container can be a lifesaver. It is a container approximately 4" in diameter that has 3 sections to put 3 servings in with a lid and a pour spout. Just pour premeasured amount in bottle already filled with correct amount of water, and shake.

Breast Pads

For the first few months, your breasts will leak milk. These pads are nothing more than a Light Days type pad in a circular form for your nipples. They're a lifesaver for your bras and shirts!

Nursing Bras

These bras have a clasp or a snap on your collar bone area that you unfasten and flip down when you feed baby.

Pacifiers

Wait until baby's born before buying. He'll decide what kind he'll like at the hospital — silicone or latex. Go for the orthopedic shape, not the straight/bubbled kind. It'll be better for his growing teeth, and will be a better fit, shape and angle for the inside of the mouth.

Medicine

From day one, keep these on hand:

Large Maxi Pads

At the hospital they will use HUGE pads on you resembling diapers. For the first 4-6 weeks after delivery you will have bleeding — heaviest during the first week. This is regardless of a vaginal deliver or a C-section.

Preparation-H

Chances are you will have hemorrhoids either the last couple of months of pregnancy or afterwards due to pushing during delivery.

Stool Softeners

You can take one every morning to help soften your stools to avoid hemorrhoids. The third trimester is when the baby will grown and shift to make your bathroom life the most miserable — (urinating often and harder to defecate). They will not harm the baby at all.

Tucks Pads

Multi-use. Stick them in the fridge to get them good and refreshingly cool. Use them when needed for your hemorrhoids. They can also be used as toilet paper after your stitches are healed from your episiotomy (often the doctor will have to cut your perineum: the skin between the vagina and anus, to allow for more room for baby's delivery). The nurse will send home a cleansing bottle to put water in and squirt yourself after using the toilet because the area will be sensitive (too much so for toilet paper use), especially with the stitches.

Baby Wash (Johnson & Johnson)

Great stuff. Will not hurt/sting the eyes. The first few months you can use this as a shampoo. Don't use regular soap on baby that will dry out his tender skin.

Baby Shampoo (Johnson & Johnson)

Not really needed until hair starts growing in. Remember: a little goes a long way. Just use a couple of drops. Johnson's is also good because of its "No Tear" formula (won't hurt the eyes).

Baby Powder

AVOID! Some people lilke to sprinkle this on baby's bum during changes and to help him smell better. Don't do it. More of it becomes airborne and inhaled into baby's lungs than actually lands on his bum. Diapers these days are much better than the ones 20-30 years ago when people thought it was necessary to use powder to keep baby dry. Trust me — he'll be fine without it. Use lotion to keep him smelling nice.

Baby Bath Tub

Small tub for small baby. Can be easily put on the counter — either bathroom or kitchen. Brings baby up to your elbow height (easier on the knees!) and helps you have a better grip on slippery wet baby.

Washcloths

Get a dozen or so. When washing baby, always start with his eyes with a clean wet cloth. NO SOAP. Start in the corner nearest the nose and gently wipe outward. After that, have fun. Just remember: wet babies are very slippery!

Towels

I prefer hooded baby towels, although anything that'll get him dry will work.
No matter what, make sure the privates are covered, or else as soon as a cool breeze comes along, you'll get wet!

Huggies-brand Wash Cloths

These are great, especially when baby is saturated with poop or vomit. They clean wonderfully; they are already imbibed with soap: just add water and wash. And since they're disposable, you won't have to worry about washing it when baby's done. Just throw away.

Temperature Rubber Ducky

Not necessary, but nice to have. Baby's skin is very sensitive to temperature. What you think is moderate and nice will probably burn the baby. This ducky will turn colors if water is too hot.

Bath Toys

Avoid squirt toys. Water collects in them and it's difficult to empty them completely, or else they can collect a black moldy substance inside that will (or can) come out the next time baby plays with it. Yuck!

Mesh Toy Bag

Hangs nicely and neatly up on bathtub wall with suction cup. It allows toys to drip dry until the next time. Toy racks are okay, but they fall too easily and make lots of noise (since they are usually insulated metal). They also tend to get in the way a lot and move from place to place, a hassle.

Toilet Lock

Of all the safety devices, this is the most useless. If you keep toilet lids closed as well as bathroom doors, you'll most likely have no problems. Better yet, just keep an eye on your kid and he'll be fine.

Outlet Covers

ARE A MUST! Outlets are magnets to all children. One of baby's favorite toys is your jingling keys. At some point in his childhood he will try to put a key, finger, screwdriver, eating utensil, or something similar into an outlet. Cover all outlets that don't have anything plugged into them. Even the ones high up in bathrooms and kitchens need to be addressed. Baby will probably learn to climb well before he walks.

Drawer/Cabinet Locks

I have a bunch for you, but you may need to get a few more. I like the kind you string through two adjacent handles to lock. This is truly baby-proof. Yes, it may be a little unsightly, but no one will mid when they see Junior crawling around knowing he's safe from the dangerous perils that lie within. Anyway, do try to avoid the kind you physically attach to the inside upper corners of your cabinets. They have a simple push down finger-release lever that most kids can master within a week's time.

Gerber Door Knobs Covers

Also a good investment. Put one on any and every door you don't want him to go through. Some examples? Okay: his bedroom (on the inside for naptime, bedtime, etc.), your bedroom (when you need just a few more moments baby-free), the basement door, laundry room door, broom closet and pantry (you'll soon realize how great this location is!).

Door Chains

For the front door, or any other that leads directly to the outside. Gerber door knobs not recommended on these doors because it is too difficult to lock/unlock through the tiny hole provided. Keep the chain on and baby cannot escape! *smile*

Safety Gates

YES, YES, YES! (Did I say 'yes'?) Choose the ones that will fit our doorways the best. Avoid the mesh kind that are spring-loaded for wide doorways. They fall over easily. At the top of your stairs, get one you bolt to the walls. They are the best, most sturdy gates. Where it opens there's a handle at the top you pull up on as you push a release button (all the best gates have this feature), and at the bottom there's something to keep your gate aligned properly. When possible, keep him out of the kitchen and locked in a secure/babyproof living room. Peace of mind is worth anything.

Car Seat

Get a carrier with a comfortable carry handle. Zigzag looking handles are good. Avoid handles that go straight across. Within 5 minutes of carrying, your hand will hurt. By the time he's 3 months, he'll outgrow it but it comes in handy when traveling and visiting during sleeping hours. The seat I'll be giving you can be used the day he comes home from the hospital until he's big enough for a booster seat (2 – 3 years old). Keep one seat in each car. Always put him in the middle of the backseat, facing backwards until he's 1 year old — then he will sit normally and upright on his own.

Sling/Front Carrier

These are great, especially since he's a winter baby and will enjoy the extra warmth and cuddles you'll provide. It's good for you too, as it frees up both your hands to do other things… like grocery shopping, or even going on good long walks. He won't need a coat if you wear the carrier and zip up your coat over top of him. All he'll need is a little hat. (Hmmm, if you only had one of those...)

Baby Backpack

(not sure of the brand name) This is a must for outdoors-men. This is a sturdy pack to put baby in. He'll love to go on long walks/hikes and look around. It has a sturdy medal base and can be put on easily. They usually have pockets to put baby's things in. This is a valuable tool for you 'outdoorsy' types. Also good for amusement parks or parks in general. *smile*

Monitors

Make sure it has two receivers. Keep one stationary in your room, and put the other wherever you'll be during naptime (living room, glass shop/basement, outside). The flashing light feature is good because sometimes little hands turn down the volume and the lights will measure the volume of noise for you. I believe most — if not all — come with two channels (A and B).

Dreft

Baby Laundry Detergent - Do NOT be tempted to use anything else on his clothes. Baby cloths come with a fire resistant treatment of sorts. This is one of only a small of detergents that will not wash this off. It's mild quality is also safe on baby's sensitive skin. Adult detergents can irritate and cause rashes. ALWAYS wash all new baby clothes before wearing, by the way.

Cocoa Butter/Shea Cream/Utter Cream

Pick one and apply every day to your belly. If you are diligent, this can help greatly reduce the size and number of stretch marks.

Remember: the third trimester is quickly approaching and that means your baby (and ultimately your abdomen) is growing out the fastest during this time. The cream can help, but don't expect to be stretch mark-free.

KY Jelly

You'll get extremely dried out while you're nursing. This will help quite a bit. You can thank me later.

Sunscreen

Do NOT apply until he's at least 6 months old. Keep him covered with lightweight clothes and hat until then. When using, don't put on hands (since they inevitably and frequently end up in his mouth and eyes). Don't forget the tips of his ears and his head where his hair parts.

Nail Clippers

Be gently, go slowly, get help to hold him still; but better yet, do it while he sleeps.

If you clip his skin accidentally, relax. Try not to be too upset. He'll be okay. It may bleed profusely — don't worry. You are not a bad mommy!

Antiseptic Wash (BandAid brand)

Antiseptic wash is great stuff for life's little boo-boo's. Better than soap and water or hydrogen peroxide. It rinses, cleanses, and lightly numbs the affected area.

Bandaids

The miracle workers. All ow-ies and boo-boo's feel better with a bandaid, even if there's no blood involved. You'd better go buy stock in it now...

Boo-Boo Bunny

This is a cute little bunny that holds an ice cube-sized ice pack you store in the freezer and pull out whenever baby bumps his head/elbow/knee/whatever. Just letting the baby holding him can make the baby feel better.

Teether Toys

Gel-filled teethers go in the fridge (NOT freezer). Cold teethers feel great on baby's gums.

Orajel

Get regular and nighttime formulas. It numbs teething pain and can help baby sleep. Always a good thing.

Thermometer

The ones that are placed in the ears are too big for infants. Get one that is digital that can be placed under his arm, in his mouth (when much older) or in his bum. DON'T forget to use probe covers! FYI: when taking temp under the arm (armpit) add 1 degree to final reading for true temperature.

Comb/Brush

You're bound to be given one from somebody. Even if you don't, I always preferred the ones the hospital gave us. You're sensible, find one that works well with his hair type and thickness.

Alcohol (rubbing of course)

Necessary in drying up baby's umbilical cord.

Cotton Swabs

Use to gently apply alcohol around baby's umbilical cord stump. Keep the cord dry and clean at all times. Fold down the tops of diapers so they won't rub against the cord. Newborn-sized diapers come with a notch already cut out this purpose (also helpful in learning how to center the diaper). Also, don't give him a full bathtub bath until the cord comes off. Give him a sponge bath until then. AVOID the temptation to help pull the cord off. It'll fall off in a week or so. Keep it cleaned until completely healed.

Vasoline

You'll have to put a good dab of this on your little one's area of circumcision every time you change him. The hospital will probably give you several small sample tubes before you leave, but it's always nice to have extras.

High Chair

Make sure it's sturdy, easy to wipe down and disassemble. I recommend Babee Tenda brand. It's more like a feeding table. Look it up online… you cannot find it in a store. (This table has 15-20 different functions.) The biggest thing with a chair is to make sure it won't fall over easily. Test them out at the store by trying to push them over.

Spoons

Around 6 months old, you'll introduce cereal to baby. Choose spoons that are small and shallow. Gerber offers shallow spoons but hey are too wide for baby's mouth. I don't remember who makes the good kind (maybe Playtex?).

Wedges

It is recommended that infants sleep on their sides, not on their backs (S.I.D.S.: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or tummy (may drown in spit-up). Wedges help keep baby from rolling over. As baby becomes more mobile, there's not much you can do to keep them put. Until then, use the wedges.

My daughter, Madison, was almost a S.I.D.S. victim. Around 3 months old, she'd rolled onto her back and around 10:30pm one night, I heard the worst gagging noises over the monitor. I ran upstairs to find her wide-eyed and unable to breathe. Unclear as to the problem, I picked her up and swept my finger around the inside of her mouth looking for something she may have been choking on. When the paramedics arrived, they suggested she was getting sick and choking on her own mucous. Otherwise healthy, I thought that was silly, but the next day she came down with a cold!

CLOTHES

Sleepers (10-15 qty.)

Make sure they have enclosed-socked feet, until he's around 2 years or so. Babies lose a lot of warmth when they sleep. They wiggle and rarely stay under their blankets for any length of time. Sometime around 2 years old, he'll learn how to cover himself back up again. Get lots, as he can potentially spend a lot time in them and they get messed by poop and spit-up rather frequently.

Onesies (10 qty.)

Good for extra warmth (without bulk) in winter, good as outfits when the weather is nice.

Shirts (20 qty.)

Make sure they match something you already have or something you are buying. Adorable shirts that don't match anything will never be seen and soon outgrown. Make sure you have lots, as some days baby can go through four outfits or more.

Pants (10 qty.)

Make sure they match shirts. Infant pant lengths are barely longer than shorts, as babies always like to curl up in the fetal position. Don't need as many pants as shirts since most pants can go with multiple shirts. Even still… DO LAUNDRY FREQUENTLY!

Overalls

Very cute, but can difficult during getting dressed and diaper changes, especially if crotch and inside leg regions don't have snaps along them.

Socks

Slide off easily, but they are necessary for warmth in winter and to prevent friction within shoes.

Shoes (2 pairs)

Necessary only to keep feet warm, and of course, when going outside (don't bother until he fits in size 2 or 3 shoe). When learning to walk, barefoot feet are best.

Booties (2 pairs)

Good for little feet in cold weather.

Bibs

Get several for meal times and spit-ups. They come in various sizes as baby grows.
The kind with slipover, elasticized necklines seem to work better than the tie ones as they get older — more towel-like and are larger for bigger messes, like spaghetti and mashed carrots/peas.

Disposable Bibs

Great when going out to eat. I'm sending you samples from Erich, but you may want to get a smaller size.

Hats

Get some with straps to keep on baby's head. Most kids don't like to keep them on.

Mittens

Use mitten, NOT fingered gloves on kids until 3-4 years or older. Both of you will get frustrated trying to put tiny fingers in small holes. Mittens are best for keeping hands the warmest.

Coats (2-3 qty.)

Make sure you have several just in case something happens and one gets dirty — can rotate them out. AVOID any coat with a drawstring… choking hazard.

Blanket

A nice warm, snuggly blanket can double as a coat on cool days. My personal favorites are already on your baby registry.

Receiving Blankets

You definitely won't need as many as you're bound to receive. They're good to baby-wrap infants in, but that's about it. They are too small to do much else with, and too thin to give much warmth. Most aren't even that soft.

They can be rolled up to fill in gaps within the crib or as a temporary wedge when changing diapers to keep them in place.